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A Crater for Eavesdropping on Exoplanetary Auroras
Roden Crater

According to the Royal Astronomical Society, “scientists at the University of Leicester have shown that emissions from the radio aurora of planets like Jupiter should be detectable by radio telescopes such as LOFAR, which will be completed later this year.”

At first we thought it would be cool to plug a modified radio into their database and then all night long listen in to the sonic broadcast of exoplanetary auroras. Just a fizzy shower of static from some lonely, out-of-state AM radio station, your roommates will think. But no, it's actually the gravitational whirligigs of exoplanets, exomoons, magnetic fields and ionized gases. Ambient drones for when you're writing or coding.

But you know what? Screw the radio!

What we actually want are subterranean listening chambers. Arecibo crossed with Roden Crater crossed with the Super-Kamiokande. Deep underground, these antechambers vibrate extraterrestrial landscapes — crackling and warbling, hissing and bleeping, UFOing and theremining, or however the translation matrix is rendering the data.

But could the sonic fog actually be hiding more than one aurora-crowned Hot Jupiter? To find out, the task of mining the noise dump will be crowdsourced to audiophiles with super sensitive hearing. Distributed radio astronomy in dormant calderas. Acoustically quarantined each in their own symphony hall for one, these citizen scientists will monitor for the tell-tale chordfront in the electromagnetic storm. Jodie Foster spelunking with Jules Verne in James Turrell's caverns, planet hunting by podcast.

Roden Crater

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